Poverty linked to higher death rates from heart failure

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A study in the United States demonstrates that mortality rates from heart failure are higher in counties where people face more poverty and social deprivation.
Share on PinterestStudies reveal that mortality rates from heart failure are linked with socioeconomic factors.
Heart failure, sometimes called congestive heart failure, is a chronic condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood around the body to meet its needs.
The condition is irreversible, although there are treatments that can help people live longer, more active lives.
About 5.7 million people in the U.S. have heart failure, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
A new study suggests that the risk of dying from the condition is not spread evenly across the country, but that mortality rates are higher in poorer, more socially deprived areas. Researchers at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, OH, analyzed 1,254,991 deaths from heart failure across 3,048 counties between 1999 and 2018.
They used two standard indices of social deprivation: the Area Deprivation Index (ADI), which takes into account multiple local measures, including employment, poverty, and education, and the Social Deprivation Index (SDI), which is based on income and housing.
After adjusting for age, they found that the average death rate from heart failure per county was 25.5 deaths per 100,000 head of population.
However, counties with higher rates of socioeconomic deprivation had higher death rates from heart failure, and the association held up regardless of race or ethnicity, sex, and degree of urbanization.
The levels of deprivation that the ADI measures accounted for roughly 13% of the variability in heart failure mortality among counties. This scale of risk is similar to that of other recognized risk factors for heart failure, such as obesity and diabetes, say the scientists. Correlation with housing and income — the social factors that the SDI measures — accounted for 5% of this variability.
The study features in the latest issue of the Journal of Cardiac Failure.
Persistent inequality
The research revealed that the imbalance in survival rates between wealthy and deprived areas changed little between 1999 and 2018.
“Analysis of trends in heart failure mortality shows that these disparities have persisted throughout the last two decades,” says first author Dr. Graham Bevan, a resident physician at University Hospitals.

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